Höllentalklamm: Hell’s Valley Gorge

If you research natural land features that the Garmisch-Partenkirchen area is famous for, you will see a fairly extensive list. From mountains and mountain lakes, to gorges and waterfalls. It can be difficult to decide where to begin. Visiting one of the gorges is a must do for the summer, as they are so unique and impressive. I also love a hike with a true scenic destination… A dangling carrot if you will 😊

Partnachklamm is the most popular gorge in Garmisch-Partenkirchen (GP). We were advised by a German friend that Partnachklamm can be quite crowded during peak seasons. They suggested to try to avoid weekend visits if possible and that an arguably better gorge experience could be found at the Höllentalklamm. This is a bit further from Garmisch center, but incorporates a nice hike as well. We decided to make Höllentalklamm the main destination for our Labor Day weekend outing. Added perk that it was an American holiday, so the trails would likely be less crowded than normal. We did some research to plan the route and ensure the path was passable for dogs. We ultimately decided to bring Daisy along with us for the adventure, planning to pause to rest intermittently at some Gasthäuses along the way. The decided route was as follows: GP to Hammersbach in Grainau, then through Höllentalklamm, then over to Kreuzeckhaus to ultimately take the bahn back down the mountain and walk back to our house. We figured taking the bahn down would save us some time and the unnecessary knee strain. Our estimated hike distance was 18 km.

We began by hiking from our home in GP to Grainau. The path here was flat and an easy start to the day. The sun was shining as we walked the foot path through the green pastures to Hammersbach.

Hammersbach is a district of Grainau and is marked by a nicely sized stream coming through the area. It is most significantly known for being a starting point for hikers going to multiple destinations. We stopped at the Berghotel Hammersbach for a morning espresso. Beginning here, you will see signs leading to Höllentalklamm. The paths were in perfect condition. Gravel footpaths, clear of debris and easy to walk. Our dog also had no problem through this area. After about 75 minutes of hiking, we approached Höllentalklamm. There is a 6 Euro per person entry free. Our dog was allowed in with us, but I would be cautious to bring a furry friend if you are passing through at a very crowded time or if he/she likes to wander off course. The path is well defined, but it is wet and could be dangerous if a pet set anyone off balance.

From your first step into the gorge, you are welcomed with sensations for all the senses.

A cool breeze, the scent of clear air, and a dull roar of rushing water is ever present. The tall rocky walls of the canyon stretch up to 150 meters in depth and are a true sight to behold. Around each turn is something rare formed from nature’s stationary rock cutouts, varying sunlight, and water reflections. The water in the river itself is a pure ice blue color. There are a few small waterfalls, under which moss glistens beautifully.

There are a few bridges to cross and small tunnel sections which have window cut outs to view the impressive Hammersbach torrent. The roar of the water was the most calming and captivating soundtrack to hike through. I will say that I was glad to have brought my rain jacket for this portion. The gorge was surprisingly chilly despite it being close to 30 degrees Celsius that day, the glacier water cools down the air in the gorge, even in summer. Austin didn’t have a jacket and he was quite chilly by the end of the pass, between the cool air and the inevitable shower you get going through.

The Höllentalangerhütte, just a bit past the gorge, is a must visit. We had a delicious schorle and brotzeit to refuel for the second (and more difficult) half of the hike. After lunch, we began on the next leg of the hike, taking us over to the Kreuzeckbahn.

The signage and paths were in great condition and very easy to follow. This being said, this portion was not quite as casual. You had to pay attention to your footing a bit more. The stretches that were uphill and in direct sunlight left us breathing heavy. There were some guide cables for those that like the extra security. There was also a single klettersteig (climbing way) that Austin had to carry Daisy down. This steig was more of a step down, but was very clearly not made for dogs and the jump down would have been too dangerous for her to make on her own. Before we knew it, we had made it to the Kreutzighaus and were sipping on a well deserved helles (prost!). We caught the 1630 lift down the mountain. The Kreuzeckbahn stops running at 1730 so be mindful of that if you are planning a similar journey. Don’t want to be stuck surprise climbing down the mountain without gear.

The views along this whole hike were incredible. The gorge itself would have made the hike an easy win, but the elevation gain of 1180 meters over the course of the hike made similarly breathtaking views. Seemingly untouched mountainside, as well as views over Grainau and GP. Despite a slightly hot and strenuous second half, I wouldn’t have changed a bit about the day. We had originally debated hiking the longer route to the Alpspitzbahn after Höllentalklamm, but I think this would have been a bit much for us. We are steadily building up our stamina here. Hell’s Valley Gorge hike was not for the faint of heart, but one of the most fantastical experiences that should be targeted if you have the opportunity and Wanderlust on the heart!


  1. Great photos of an amazing landscape! Thanks for sharing the hike with us.

  2. What incredible scenery! I really liked reading about your adventures!

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